Back from the dead…just in time to almost die right before the New Year!

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So, I realize I haven’t been exactly consistent here.

Just keeping it real, folks.

However, I seem to have encountered the perfect storm of sorts that makes this time the perfect one to start sharing again.

1. It is almost the end of the year. Nothing like getting a head start on resolutions.
2. Read a really good blog here
3. I had a very “adventurous” day on Saturday.
4. I received an email that someone by the name of “Emily” started following my blog, out of the blue (Hi Emily!)

Quite frankly, that last one had me floored! Yay Emily! You have joined the reveared ranks of my parents and my lovely neighbor! Woot!

So where to start?

Saturday. We’ll be consecutive about the whole thing…

So this year, my husband and I ended up childless the day after Christmas. (Emily, for the record, we actually have four kids, but have to share two with my ex-husband’s family and two his ex-wife on a regular basis.  Last year we had Thanksgiving, this year we got Christmas…yada,yada,yeah)  After dropping them off at said other families we returned to the empty house and decided that, most decidedly, we did not want to be there.

A few phone calls and a hotel reservation later, we packed up the dog, locked up the cats with enough food to choke a pack of hyenas and figured we were good for at least 24 hours. Destination: Astoria!

**For Emily’s sake, I will take a moment here to explain that Astoria is pretty special. It is the oldest settlement west of the Mississippi for one thing.

The Astoria Bridge. That's the state of Washington hiding in all that fog.

The Astoria Bridge. That’s the state of Washington hiding in all that fog.

Lewis and Clark, Goonies 4-Ever, Free Willie and all that jazz. It also happens to be where the two of us were born and lived, on and off, throughout our formative years (most importantly, high school). We both have a lot of fond memories there, and we knew we would have friends in town at that point, visiting their own families.

Short story: We arrived in semi-nice weather. Had a great walk on the waterfront with the dog.

Not Horrible weather in Astoria.

Not Horrible weather in Astoria.

Cheese curds and beer at Bouy Beer.

Mmmmmmmmmm...cheese curdssssssss....

Mmmmmmmmmm…cheese curdssssssss….

The dog survived his first night in a hotel room despite the fact that we tried to cook ourselves at one point (Note to the Norblad Hotel and Hostel…might be nice if you replaced the lead weights that the absolutely gorgeous, and original, 6′ plate glass windows require to open without help of a power winch),

Since when does vacation include sleeping on the floor?

Since when does vacation include sleeping on the floor?

and met said friends for breakfast. Of course, here we find out that said friends were planning huge dinner meet up with even MORE friends that night. Shoot, we had just turned in our keys and fed the last of the dog food to the dog that morning…We decided we would live dangerously and not make any promises either way, but spend the day seeing what happened.

First item on the list of “have to”s for the day was getting the dog out of the car for an extended period of time. It was of course, (gasp!)raining off and on by now, so we were wanting to take him somewhere he could be off leash, while we could stay under cover. There are no indoor dog parks in the area so we settled for the next best thing:

Battery Russell!

Good LORD Almighty, the dog LOVED it!  Of course, the sun didn’t exactly break through but it did stop raining long enough for us to decide that following the walking path for a bit might not be such a poor idea.

Two miles later, we came to the road that ostensibly led back to the parking lot. After following the road for about 500 yards, we came to the turn off to the Peter Iredale beach entrance. Well, having grown up believing that all beach visits required extensive hypothermic therapy at the end of the day, we couldn’t pass a chance to walk down memory lane, and perhaps introduce the dog to the joy of seagulls he could actually chase beyond the reach of the leash.

Right before everything went horribly...adventurous.

Right before everything went horribly…adventurous.

So we followed the signs to the beach and if we thought the dog loved running around the Battery, well, we realized he had perhaps never actually experienced pure joy until he saw his first seagull, seemingly parked right above his head, hovering in the headwinds blowing off the beach. Just…out…of…………reach!  Well, it didn’t take us long to decide that a walk down the beach for a bit was just what our poor deprived pooch deserved after being cooped up in the car and the hotel room without so much as a kitten to cuddle and commiserate with. So walk the beach we did. And walk, and walk, and walk. I became obsessed with finding one, whole, sand dollar.

The One

The One

There were millions of fragments littering the beach, there HAD to be at least ONE whole one. Jeff was busy keeping the dog out of the surf (we had our limits as to just how much he could enjoy himself at this point) and at one point noticed that the beach up ahead was starting to disappear in what was more than likely a rain squall. Well shoot. According to Google Maps we were closer to the opposite end of the beach than we were to the entry where we started. So we picked up the pace, hoping to reach the next beach entry before we got too soaked

(break for hysterical laughter)

We got so soaked. Mostly the left sides of our bodies, granted, as we were walking north up the beach and the wind was coming in, as it often does at the beach, OFF THE WATER. By the time we got to the entrance/exit it had actually stopped raining. And then started again. **repeat x4**

Once in the parking lot we had the choice, once again, of following a trail, a horse trail this time, or the road back to the Battery where our car was parked. At this point I think I lost my mind because I let my husband and dog lead me down the horse trail with some feeble promise of meeting up with the road and cutting across, straight to the Battery.

I should mention that there was no one else around. The only other people we had seen on the beach, in fact, were in their 4×4 trucks…racing back to the Peter Iredale entry. There were, however, several signs warning us of the possibility of cougar in the area.

Yay.

What God Forsaken Nowhere looks like.

What God Forsaken Nowhere looks like.

I should also point out that we are now on the other side of the dunes. We could hear the ocean waves, but we were actually wading through knee-high tufts of wet beach grass and shoulder-height scotch broom, circumventing the odd pine tree and hopping over LOTS of some sort of wild animal poop. LOTS.

Also,for the sake of the story, I should mention that I am in the midst of recovering from a lower back/left hip injury. Three months of PT, several x-rays, and multiple chiropractic sessions under my belt at this point, I was pretty amazed that I was still moving, albeit I was not the most graceful. And I tended towards grunting. A lot.

The dog? He was STILL loving life! In fact, by now he had gone three times as far as any of us because his modus operandi is to race ahead to the first turn in the path, then turn around and race back to make sure we are still alive. Repeat ad infinitum.

Trudge, trudge, trudge…I was beginning to be startling aware of how hard I was having to work to keep from whining. It’s not a pretty realization. I was at least two turns in the path behind Jeff (3 behind the dog). I was noticing more and more “scat” on the trail. The sun wass now below the top of the dune, and we were supposed to be meeting friends at 5 for dinner.  Just as I started to accelerate so that I could come within shouting distance of Jeff to inquire, calmly, as to the time, I rounded the corner smack into both he and the dog. They aren’t looking for me, however. In fact, their attention was quite obviously held by the never-ending Great Dismal Swamp of the PNW. Holy CRAP! Where did the trail go?!?

He turns to me and says, “We’ll, unfortunately, this is where we were supposed to turn off to join the road.”

UNFORTUNATLEY???? Panic now starts to set in as it begins, once again, to rain and I suddenly became fully aware that yes, in fact, my boots are leaking, my down-filled coat is soaked through to my wool sweater that I was ever-so-smart to have left on at the last minute, and there was even a trickle of water headed south down my backside!

At least my husband, being the kind, loving, man that he is, had the decency to apologize to me at this point and ask me if I was going to make it.

Smack.

I swallow the whimper that was about to make spectacular swan dive off of the tip of my tongue, smile and assure him that I was wetter than the dog, but still walking and willing and able to continue, giving the alternative was to…not.

In order to circumvent the Great Dismal, we had to leave the horse trail and walk the crest of the dune for what seemed like forever, with no way to actually see the trail when and if it did ever show up again as the dune grass kept it so cleverly hidden (probably why so many things like to poop on it, it’s totally private!) At this point, the uneven terrain was beginning to take it’s toll on my stride, but in an effort to distract myself I was trying my damnedest to focus on all of the things that could be soooooo much worse about this situation. I could have been cold. I wasn’t. Wool and cotton layers are good for that. Even wet wool and cotton layers. As is constant movement. It could have been my feet that were in pain rather than my one hip.It could have been BOTH hips. It could have been dark (though that was ominously hovering in my peripheral vision). I could have had a headache, or had to pee, or, heaven forbid, POOP!!  My husband assured me that all of the poop we were seeing was most likely mule deer, elk, or some other sweet, beach dwelling herbivore.

Eventually, we made it all the way back to the Peter Iredale parking lot. Yay. We were no closer than we were exactly two hours ago, but at least we knew where we were. And once again, we were faced with the choice of following the road or a trail back to the Battery. A bike trail this time. It started raining. Again.

Trail? Do you see a trail? Do you see a road??

Trail? Do you see a trail? Do you see a road??

So of course, we took the damn, frigging trail!

I am now fully educated to the fact that trails are purposely designed to cover as much area in the most round about way possible. Whereas roads, are meant to get you from one place to another in the most direct way possible.

Cannot see the forest for the trees..or the damned path either...

Cannot see the forest for the trees..or the damned path either…

I swear, if there hadn’t been trees in the way, we could have seen the damn car from where we stood, beyond the 50 switchbacks of the stupid trail.

By this time it was starting to get dark. The dog wass no longer racing ahead. He was, rather, walking right between us, tail and head both hanging at an alarmingly low level. My stride consisted basically of me throwing my leg out in front of me and hoping it supported my body as I passed over it. Even Jeff was complaining of discomfort and inwardly cringing at my eventual reaction when he was going to have to break it to me that the last mileage marker actually said 1.1 miles to Battery Russell, and not the 0.11 miles that I cheerfully read out loud.

Notice the flagging tail and nose...

Notice the flagging tail and nose…

Oh. MY. GOD!!! By the grace of Himself we finally made it, NINE MILES AND FOUR AND A HALF HOURS LATER to the parking lot. Now I was freezing and I did have to pee, but the thought of having to squat over a port-a-potty made me want to break into a most spectacular case of hysterics. Actually sitting down would mean I might never leave. Luckily, this particular design of parking lot potty had a sturdy bar that I could hang on to for dear life, necessitating neither the assistance of another person or a change of address.

Eventually, both Jeff and I literally stripped down to our underwear right there in front of the three families who decided to show up at 4:30 to tour the park in their Sunday best. I couldn’t believe how much warmer I was standing in the rain naked than I had been with my three layers of dripping clothing. Unfortunately, the only change of clothes I had included neither dry pants nor a public-worthy shirt. I also had no other shoes. But, we were only 10 minutes away from a store and, at this point, only 30 minutes late for our dinner date with friends.

SCORE!

The next 45 minutes consisted of stopping at the local Fred Meyer to try on 10 pairs of “NO FRIGGING WAY!! I WOULD RATHER WEAR WET JEANS IN PUBLIC”pants. I settled for dry socks and pair of Toms knockoffs…and dog food. There was absolutely no way we were driving home that night.

*****

I have completely lost track of the point of my whole post today.

Sorry, Emily. It happens more often than not these days. Hope you’re still hanging in there.

I need a hot drink….I’m freezing.